Episode 106b

I had the privilege of talking with  my good friend and colleague Sarah Sanders. Sarah is hosting a free event for moms of young children. The focus of the event is a 5 day challenge to help moms create a resiliency game plan for the holidays. So often the holidays are more stressful than joyful and often at the expense of the one who is planning it. In many families, it’s moms who are planning the holiday events. Sarah’s goal is to help moms use skills and planning to help them be able to carve out what they want from the holiday and keep their inner peace. Be sure to check out centeredwithsarah.com/holiday for more information. 

Check out centeredwithsarah.com/holiday to participate in this challenge



You’re listening to the All Things Substance podcast, the place for therapists to hear about substance use from a mental health perspective.  I’m your host, Betsy Byler and I’m a licensed therapist, clinical supervisor, and a substance abuse counselor.  It is my mission to help my fellow therapists gain the skills and competence needed to add substance use to their scope of practice.   So join me each week as we talk about All Things Substance.

Welcome back to the All Things Substance Podcast. This is episode 106B. The reason that this is episode 106B is that it is about the holidays that I talked about last week. When the holidays pop up we get a chance to be able to hear from our clients the things that they’re worried about. There might be family members they never see. They might be trying to put on a perfect holiday for their children. They’re worried about money, or they’re worried about having to have things a certain way. 

It’s a time of stress, oftentimes more than a time of joy and togetherness, although the media is selling them that they need to have. A colleague of mine does an excellent resiliency plan with her clients, and she’s doing a challenge for moms with little kids to help them build their resiliency game plan for the holidays.

Oftentimes, the person doing the planning is a mom, in addition to all the other things that she’s doing. There isn’t a lot of room for extra stuff, and the holidays seem to be coming faster as stress grows.  I wanted to provide the resource for all of you to be able to share with your clients  or to participate in the challenge yourself.

It is a free event and  this morning I got a chance to talk with Sarah Sanders, and she’s gonna tell us all about what she’s up to and how this challenge is going to work. Sarah, thank you so much for joining me this morning.

Thanks for having me, Betsy.  Sarah, can you talk a little bit about what you see in your practice when the holidays are coming around?

With my practice as a therapist in California, I am in private practice and I see a lot of women who are high functioning with anxiety. And so on the outside they appear like they have everything together, but inside they struggle a lot.   And I’ve realized over the years with working with my clients that, especially during the holidays, there’s a lot of stress that’s going on and they don’t look like they’re struggling on the outside, but on the inside they’re having mass amounts of anxiety.

So maybe they’re not sleeping or they’re mind is running a mile a minute, or they’re drinking more than they normally would, or eating more than they normally would.  They’re just really struggling, having a really hard time. I’ve done these types of resiliency plans for other types of things, but I started noticing with the holidays it was especially important to make a plan with them.

I think what we underestimate a lot is the benefit of actually having a plan.  We can’t control other people, so it doesn’t necessarily change that Aunt Karen’s gonna be talking about politics or your parenting and  you’re gonna have lots of extra stress. You can’t change what other people are doing, but you can change what you are going to do about it or how you’re gonna think about it. 

So I’ve created these plans to think about these different elements and these different nuances with your specific family and what to do about it and how to create that resiliency so that you’re not getting knocked down. It doesn’t look like you’re getting knocked down necessarily to other people, but inside you’re carrying that huge weight. So that’s what I’m excited to be teaching people

So since you’ve been creating these resiliency plans with your clients all these years, how did you come up with the idea for making it a more specific challenge and can you tell us about the challenge.  

I am a mother of two young kids and, I started doing ’em with my clients, but what I realized was also with all moms and people in general actually, that there’s just so much stress with the holidays and I realized I actually wasn’t getting more stressed about the holidays than I was just normally with parenting. Because with the holidays, I just really wanna protect that time and enjoy it and not be extra stressed. So if I’m going to a family event and they’re like, Can you make a pie? I’m like, Nope. I’ll buy a pie. I’m not gonna be able to spend hours in the kitchen making a pie.

 I realized that I say no a lot during the holidays, but a lot of the clients that I work with don’t say no a lot in general or in the holidays.  This idea to create these plans more from I figured out that there’s these little things that you can do and tweak that can make you have less stress and  how do you do that?  It really became this merging of understanding the stress of everyday life with having young kids and also with what my clients go through. 

The boundaries and saying no, that I’ve created in my personal life around holidays. There’s just so much focus on making it magical for your kids or, being there for what your parents or your grandparents or friendsgiving it’s always about other people. We tend to, as women, we’re very conditioned to think of other people and not think about our needs and especially find that’s true during the holidays, 

With this holiday challenge, I wanted to have a really practical way that mothers could prepare for the holidays in December and the holiday events, whether it’s something small, an event at church or if it’s a family dinner, whatever it was. I wanted moms to be prepared that they have a way that they can create and protect their inner peace. 

So starting on the Monday after Thanksgiving on November 28th, going five days. With it ending on December 2nd, I’ll be sending out an email every morning with a lesson on that day’s video of how do you create this holiday resiliency plan. 

And then at night I’m gonna be going on at 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time, 8:00 PM Eastern Standard Time, and doing some live coaching and q and a if somebody’s hit a roadblock or feeling stuck with, Yeah, that sounds great in theory, but how does this work with this specific family member or this specific, friend dynamic with the holidays. 

Over five days, we’re gonna be going through the different aspects of a holiday event or a holiday, dinner, whatever it is that you wanna pick and figure out these different areas. So who, what, when, where, why is what we’re gonna be going through, and really flushing out those details.

So in the challenge we’ll be talking about one aspect of it will be a location that you can go to if you physically need to take a break and leave the situation. So a lot of times what comes up is somebody notices, Hey, where are you going? Or, No, I need you to do such and such. So what would you say to them? 

I’ll be giving ideas and prompts and  providing some coaching around that so that the person is not just thinking, Great, I have this plan, but it’s not gonna work because my mother-in-law tends to, want me there for the entire thing, or, my mom needs my help with cooking the dinner or whatever it is.

 And also these techniques and this format and this plan is actually beneficial for anything. So I’ve helped clients who maybe their spouse works, seven on seven off, and when they’re on their seven on and they’re gone, they feel more stress and anxiety.

We create a resiliency plan for that based on this type of format. So it’s really something that’s really beneficial for everyday life of really honing in on those skills of what do I need? What does the situation take? . What can I do ahead of time to plan for it? And then how do I actually do it at the moment? And because I’ve been doing these for so long, I would say I. I heard a lot, I’ve seen a lot and I can give some really helpful tips and troubleshoot some, especially with some difficult family members. 

I think it’s a really neat opportunity as we get an hour a week with our clients if they’re being seen weekly and as the holidays come up and after Thanksgiving, it seems like it’s kind of a mad dash and clients would get a chance to pop into a live zoom of an evening and talk with Sarah about a specific issue or a specific scenario that’s coming up  that they wanna talk about.

I think it’s an excellent way to provide a free resource for folks, and I’m really glad that you’re doing it. Sarah. Can you tell people where to find you and how to register for it? 

My website is centeredwithsarah.com and if you go to /holiday, you’ll have the form that you can sign up and it will talk more about it. They’re really gonna build on each other, but even if somebody misses prior days, it’s not a big deal. We can catch ’em up and  I’ll be sending the replays if you miss it and you can’t go live. So it’s gonna be 5:00 PM Pacific time and 8:00 PM Eastern standard time. Live November 28th through December 2nd.

Sarah, thanks so much for being here this morning and taking some time to let us know about the challenge. Yes. Thank you so much, Betsy. I’m happy to share it. 

That’s centeredwithsarah and that’s Sarah with an h.com. And I’ll put the link in the show notes and the challenge is centeredwithsarah.com/holiday. And again, it’s free and you can pass it along to your clients or can show up yourself. 

As therapists, I think sometimes have a more realistic view of what the holidays are going to be.

But man, in our families of origin, that doesn’t stop us from getting sucked right back into the system sometimes. 

I know for myself, having kids, when they were young, I realized that the problem with the holidays and money wasn’t my children. It was me wanting to buy them more and more.

Having this sort of intense need to make sure that they had this perfect holiday, even though my therapist’s brain and my normal non-holiday hijacked brain knew that’s not what they remember. They remember other things and a lot of times those things have nothing to do with spending money.

I know that I do a lot of this work as well with my clients. I want them to think about their January self and think about how they wanna feel in January as opposed to dreading the holidays. So I’m really excited that Sarah is walking people through this, and I wanted to share it with all of you therapists out there so that you can pass it along to others.

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